Monteverde feels like a tropical ski resort, nestled in the mountains, filled with cosy bars and restaurants, but without the snow.
It’s home to a number of adventure parks boasting bungee jumps, tarzan swings and the longest zipline in the whole of Central America.
A reason for Monteverde’s biodiversity is the existence of two large cloud forests – Monteverde and Santa Elena cloud forests. These are areas with heavy moisture and rainfall that encourages different types of vegetation and ecosystems to grow compared to other forests.
Although there’s plenty to do in Monteverde, you don’t need to spend a full week here to explore its surroundings. The ideal length of time is between 2-3 days. This gives you enough time to do everything you’ll want to do like an adventure park, cloud forests, coffee tasting and night walks!
Monteverde is the place to go if you are looking for adventure in Costa Rica. By adventure we mean places that get your adrenaline levels rising. You can go ziplining, rappelling and bungee jumping. It’s one of the main reasons why people come to Monteverde!
If you are looking for such adventure’s you’ll have to visit one of Monteverde’s many adventure parks. Having so many adventure parks can make choosing which one to go to a rather confusing process.
Which canopy tour should you pick?
To help you out, we’ve included some of the key features of the four most popular parks:
100% Aventura Adventure Park – $58 pp
3 hour canopy tour
11 zip lines – including 2 superman zip lines
Longest zipline in Costa Rica
You can book the Adventura canopy tour for $58 per person, including an ATV ride through the jungle here.
No matter which adventure park you choose, your day is guaranteed to be filled with adrenaline, laughter, fun and of course, adventure!
#2 Take on the highest bungee jump in Central America
If the adventure parks mentioned above aren’t extreme enough for you, how about the highest bungee jump in Central America?
Monteverde Extremo hasn’t built just a bungee jump that’s 143 meters high, it’s one of a kind.
A tram moves across cables that are suspended above the jungle. The tram then moves along the cable system to the point where only the most daring are willing to jump!
It’s guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your trip to Costa Rica, and a great bragging point that you’ve jumped from the highest bungee in the whole of Central America.
The Monteverde bungee jump costs only $87, including transportation to and from your hotel if you book it on Viator.
#3 Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest
Costa Rica has plenty of jungle, but Monteverde has something special – cloud forests.
Cloud forests are rare, only occurring within tropical and subtropical mountainous environments where the atmospheric conditions allow for consistent cloud coverage. This results in different vegetation and wildlife to the other jungle regions in Costa Rica.
Monteverde Cloud Forest is one of two cloud forests available in Monteverde, and it’s also the most popular. You’ll more about the other one in the next activity of this post!
The Monteverde Cloud Forest park was established in 1972 and protects over 4,000 hectares that are home to over 100 species of mammals, 400 birds and 500 orchids.
New to Monteverde? Check out this compact Monteverde travel guide to show you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Monteverde!
Inside Monteverde Cloud Forest
Monteverde Cloud Forest park has 11 trails of varying length, none of which are considerably difficult. All of the paths are well maintained and easy to follow.
There are plenty of amazing views along the way, including the viewpoint from the Continental Divide. Here you’ll see the Pacific and Atlantic slopes meet each other. You’ll also find a waterfall and a hanging bridge in this cloud forest.
In terms of wildlife, you probably won’t see much compared to other national parks in Costa Rica. The focus here is the unique vegetation.
Visiting Monteverde Cloud Forest
The entrance to the park is $25 per person, but you should make your own decision if you think it’s worth it to pay this amount. In our opinion, there are other parks around Monteverde that are more impressive.
If you decide to visit the park, there is also an option to get a guide. Instead of hiring a “general park guide”, we would recommend to join a tour with a guide that is specialised in certain animal species like birds (more on this in activity #6).
TIP: Our highlight was actually not the park itself, but the Hummingbird Garden just outside the park which we discuss in #5. Though it may not be worth the journey if you’re not visiting the cloud forest as well.
How to get to Monteverde Cloud Forest?
By car it takes around 15 minutes to get from Santa Elena Downtown to Monteverde Cloud Forest.
If you don’t have a car, the next best option is the bus that costs just $1 each way. The bus takes around 25-30 minutes.
#4 Visit Santa Elena Cloud Forest
If you want to experience a cloud forest with fewer visitors around you, then we’d recommend visiting Santa Elena Cloud Forest. It’s the lesser known of the two, meaning it’s a more intimate and peaceful experience.
Although Santa Elena Cloud Forest doesn’t host the famous hanging bridge, it is equally as beautiful as the Monteverde one. It’s at a higher elevation of 1600 meters and has 12km of well maintained trails.
What’s special about Santa Elena Cloud Forest?
Boasting even more moisture than the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Santa Elena is a magnificent entanglement of moss, vines and branches.
This cloud forest isn’t actually a national park and is instead run by the Santa Elena Technical Professional High School. It’s an excellent example of how people can come together to preserve, learn and benefit from the environment they live in.
Entrance is slightly cheaper at $16 per person.
How to get to Santa Elena Cloud Forest
Santa Elena Cloud Forest is slightly further from the town than the Monteverde Cloud Forest, but it still only takes 20-minutes by car.
For those without a car, there’s a bus that runs frequently to the park and costs $2 each way.
#5 Observe hummingbirds at the Hummingbird Garden
Just outside of the entrance to Monteverde Cloud Forest you’ll find the Hummingbird Garden.
The garden is home to over 14 species of hummingbirds that come to feed on the sweet water feeders that hang from trees.
You can stand there for ages watching the magnificent and colourful birds dart all around you. The birds aren’t too afraid of humans, so you can get pretty close for a great shot.
It’s free to enter the part where the hummingbirds, which is a great addition to your visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest. It’s actually our favourite part!
#6 Go bird watching in Monteverde Cloud Forest
If you’re an avid bird watcher, or just want to increase your chances of seeing the rare Resplendent Quetzal, then you can join a bird watching tour in Monteverde Cloud Forest.
With up to 450 species of birds, there will be plenty to see whilst you’re hiking around the cloud forest. Your experienced guide will help you to tick off as many birds as possible, whilst learning about them too.
That’s not all, your guide will also be on the lookout for capuchin monkeys, coatis, agoutis and deers which can sometimes also be seen.
We’d recommend joining a specialised tour like this in Monteverde Cloud Forest rather than the general one.
#7 Find the the ficus tree bridge hidden in the jungle of Santa Elena
This is a great free activity in Monteverde, and one that not everyone knows about yet. You have to read about it or hear about it from someone else as the signage for the ficus tree bridge is practically non-existent!
Ficus trees, also known as strangler trees, actually kill their host tree as they wrap around them. This ficus tree has decided to grow across the river below, forming a bridge-like formation.
Located in Downtown Santa Elena, your visit to the ficus tree bridge should only take around 30 minutes. The walk from the start of the trail takes only 5 minutes. The rest of your time can be spent getting some great shots on the bridge.
Try climbing down to the river and getting an angle from below!
#8 Walk amongst the jungle canopy on the Selvatura hanging bridges
Exploring forests and jungles on the ground is fun, but it can be even more spectacular. Exploring forests and jungles with a birds-eye-view, amongst the jungle canopy is on another level, literally!
Selvatura is set within 830 acres of unspoilt jungle, perfect for observing a wide variety of flora and fauna, plus the endemic biodiversity of the cloud forest canopy.
Sitting between 50 and 170 metres in the sky, the 3km of trails over 8 bridges offer the best vantage point of the cloud forest.
Costing just $33 per person, the Selvatura trail should last for around 1.5 hours, but you can explore the park completely at your own pace.
It’s a fun and unique way to explore a one-of-a-kind forest.
#9 See 80% of Monteverde’s wildlife come to life on a night tour
A night tour is one of the must-do things during your time in Costa Rica!
Many rainforest inhabitants are nocturnal, making the rainforest an exciting and new place after dark. In fact, 80% of the mammals in Monteverde are nocturnal!
As the sun begins to set, the animals begin to wake up, start looking for mates and begin the hunt! Some of the wildlife that you’ll be able to see include snakes, spiders, porcupines, tree frogs and much more.
You can book a 2-hour jungle night tour for just $20. This ticket includes a knowledgeable guide, who knows the secret locations of the animals.
#10 Join a coffee and chocolate tour
A lot of us can’t imagine starting our day without a cup of coffee, but how often do we actually think about the craft that goes into making the perfect brew?
Monteverde is one of the best coffee regions in the whole of Costa Rica. It’s also famous for its production of cocoa, which is used to make chocolate – one of the world’s favourite foods!
Don Juan’s tours are one of the most popular in Monteverde. The added bonus is that it’s also a family-run, ecotourism business.
What’s included in the tour?
The tour will take you on the full coffee production journey, right from the humble red cherry at the very start, to the delicious cup of coffee at the end.
After this, the sweetest part of the tour begins – learning about how chocolate is made and getting to taste the finished product.
Monteverdes weather can be very unpredictable and usually involves a lot of rain due to its location. This tour is a perfect activity on a rainy day as all of their trails are protected and made of cement. Whatever the weather, you can still enjoy it!
This mystic forest got its name from the locals who used to frequently encounter Jaguars, the largest cat in all of the Americas. Don’t worry you’d be incredibly lucky, or unlucky, depending on how you see it, to find a Jaguar nowadays.
There are 2 trails available to hike, both intermediate level, showcasing 4 stunning waterfalls and 9 bridges. The waterfalls range between 15 and 30 metres high, offering some spectacular sights and immense velocity.
Visiting this gorgeous waterfall costs $29 for entry. Booking tickets online is more expensive ($61), as it also includes an additional 35 minutes horse riding adventure.
El Tigre is open from 7:30am-2pm.
#12 Observe 25 species of frogs at Monteverde Frog Pond
Spotting frogs in the wild isn’t always the easiest thing. If you want to guarantee seeing a variety of frogs during your visit to Monteverde, the place to go is Monteverde Frog Pond.
The 25 species of frogs, toads and other amphibians live in large, naturally-stimulated terrariums which are helping with their conservation.
You can only enter the Frog Pond with a guide, but this way you’ll learn everything you wish to know about frogs, their habitat and their unique characteristics.
Some of the frogs that you may be able to spot include the colourful poison arrow frog, crowned frog, marine toad, leopard frog and the famous red-eyed tree frog!
How to visit?
Entrance costs $12 per person and part of the ticket fee goes towards the conservation and research efforts of the organisation.
It’s open from 9am-8:30pm every day.
#13 Admire Monteverde Orchid Garden’s blooming good gardens
There are more than 1,400 types of wild orchids in Costa Rica, with over 500 of these in Monteverde.
Throughout the whole year, Monteverde Orchid Garden has on average over 120 different species in bloom.
The Orchid Garden offers a 45-minute tour of their thriving and blooming outdoor gardens. During this time they show off their incredible collection of miniature orchids, as well as giving you advice on how to look after your orchids at home!
This place is a real treat. You can even book a room that has its own private jacuzzi. If you don’t want to splash out that much, you can still enjoy their covered heated pool, spa and beautiful gardens.
You don’t have to leave the hotel as their onsite restaurant offers super tasty meals. They combine both local products from Monteverde and exotic ingredients to create exciting and delicious flavours. The rooms as well as their staff are both fabulous.
If what you’re looking for is complete relaxation, then here is the place! Calathea Lodge is situated slightly further from the main town, but still only a walk away from the main town.
The rooms are bright, open and comfortable. All coming with a private patio or balcony where you can sit and observe nature. The staff is super friendly and will help you organise your activities in Monteverde. They also provide a superb breakfast to set you up right for the day.
Eddy’s Place in Monteverde is a guarantee of good value for your bucks. This small family-run hotel only has 4 rooms, with Freddy the main host, making you feel at home immediately. His breakfast every morning is delicious and very filling.
The rooms are nice and big, with exceptionally comfortable beds. You’ll definitely be getting a good night's sleep here. In the morning you’ll awake to an array of wildlife living in the jungle around the hotel.